Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Archduke Otto von Hapsburg 1912-2011
For a time, it seemed that the possibilities for restoration were improving and Archduke Otto was involved in talks with the Austrian government toward that end. Once union with Germany had been forbidden by the Allies, a revival of Austrian national pride came with the rise to power of Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. The Nazis, however, opposed this and assassinated Dollfuss and deposed Schuschnigg after invading Austria -the first victim of Nazi aggression. Needless to say, Archduke Otto was an implacably opposed to the Nazi Party as they were to him and all he represented. With a death sentence hanging over him, he traveled to the United States where he spent most of World War II. In the wake of the conflict, he proposed again trying to set right what had gone from after the First World War but no one listened. He felt strong ties to all of the former Hapsburg lands and it was a great pain to him to see almost all of them handed over to the Soviet Union as satellite states.
None of this, however, represented a turning away from the history Archduke Otto represented as Head of the House of Hapsburg. His ideas about respecting history and tradition as well as European and particularly Central European unity provided the inspiration for the Black-Yellow Alliance which aims to restore the Hapsburg monarchy to a union of Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Czech and Slovakia. Furthermore, his ideas for a united Europe can also be seen as a continuation of the traditions of the Holy Roman Empire and the wider European Christendom of the Middle Ages or even the late Roman Empire. The Archduke was a head of the Austrian branch of the Order of the Golden Fleece and also a member of the Order of the Annunciation (Savoy, Italy), the Order of Charles III (Spain), the Papal Order of St Gregory the Great and a member of the Knights of Malta among his many other honors. The values represented by these Catholic orders of chivalry were immensely important to him as were the traditions they represented.
The loss of the Archduke is a terrible blow and though he was 98 and we all knew this day was coming for a long time, it does nothing to mitigate the sorrow. He was one of the list living links with the older, grander Europe of yesterday. He was a good man, good natured, hard working, upright and I know of no one who ever wrote to him who did not receive an answer. He was also a Hapsburg and the House of Hapsburg is one of those royal family names that looms large over the whole history of the modern western world. It was the first European royal house to reign over my own home and native land as attested by the Hapsburg eagles one can still find set in stone on the oldest buildings and landmarks. Being the skeptic that I am, I could never embrace the ‘united Europe’ concept as he did but, again, his vision was an admirable one with unity based on tradition, culture, history and I suppose political values too but certainly not the sort of atheistic, socialist super-state most EU promoters today envision. However, one of the things I admire most about the late Archduke was that, without compromising his principles, he was always engaged and realistic. He did not sit on the sidelines and criticize, he got involved, accepted what could not be changed and worked to change what could. The man was never idle and always constructive. Monarchists everywhere could learn much by his example.
My His Imperial Royal Highness rest in peace and may he walk forever in the eternal light of the divine presence.